Review: Salt and Sanctuary (PlayStation 4)
- Release Date (NA): March 15, 2016
- Release Date (EU): March 15, 2016
- Publisher: Ska Studios
- Developer: Ska Studios
- Genres: Action-RPG
- ESRB Rating: Teen
- PEGI Rating: Twelve years and older
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
The Salt Life
Salt and Sanctuary begins with simple ship navigation. A simple intro that is met with untimely demise as you face off against the first boss of the game almost immediately afterwards. In death, you will forge your new life by customizing character elements and choosing a class. You will also align yourself to a faction once you are washed ashore to the first level of the game.
It's from here that the true breadth of the game becomes known. Salt and Sanctuary may fool you with simple 2D sidescrolling, but it is completely free to explore at your will and has multiple different paths you may take. Bosses can be fought out of order, different equipment can be found all over the lands, and plenty of salt can be found to continue bolstering your character.
Every boss has their own quirk and method to taking them down, much of which requires recognizing attack patterns and utilizing dodge techniques to survive. Killing enemies and bosses rewards you with more salt to level up and increase stats. However, danger is always looming over you, as one death results in the loss of any salt you haven’t used yet little by little until it is gone forever.
Salt and Sanctuary is obviously very inspired by Dark Souls, even down to certain quest lines being a tad bit similar to those found in From Software’s games. Aside from the game's aesthetic, one of the main differences is Salt and Sanctuary's focus on hard platforming and traversal.
The 2D planes of Salt and Sanctuary mean using precision to jump and navigate through treacherous caves and dungeons, and one mistimed jump can mean your demise.
Items and Aesthetic
The weapons and items that Salt and Sanctuary utilize are all fairly unique and enjoyable to use. I began my journey as a Hunter, with a flintlock pistol in hand alongside my whip. Some weapons have simple smacks and slashes while others will combo into themselves for dealing higher and quicker damage. And of course, magic and prayers will also play an integral part into your playstyle. Interestingly, magic has a double edged sword to its use. Using too much of a specific spell, (for all you spammers out there,) causes you to take damage over time. Timeliness and precision is a forced skill in Salt and Sanctuary, one you can live or die by.
In playing the game, not only did I find inspiration from Dark Souls, but also heavy inspiration in aesthetic and gameplay from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The hand-drawn look of the game is incredibly eerie and very pretty at times. Colors that are bland even look appealing in the games quirky style.
One of the greatest features of Salt and Sanctuary to me is the fact the game can be played Co-Op in its entirety. Sitting on the couch with a good friend and taking on the brutal gameplay together made the game twice as enjoyable, and twice as difficult. Don’t think for a second that an extra set of hands makes you safe for even a moment, as introducing a second player causes all bosses to nearly double their health.
After using an item called the Stone Sellsword at a sanctuary, a second player can join in on the fun. There is no online co-op unfortunately, but the game is way more fun playing side by side with a friend anyway.
The only real complaints I even have about Salt and Sanctuary, aside from some loose platforming every now and again, is mostly against the soundtrack. Repetitive music or simple lack thereof is enough to make the experience a little less engaging.
+ Brutally Fun
+ Has Co-Op
- Repetitive Music
- Loose Platforming
Hand drawn visuals and eerie atmosphere, Salt and Sanctuary has a wonderful presentation.
The combat is solid, the platforming is a little dodgy but otherwise fun, the skills are expansive, and there is plenty of gear to choose from. Salt and Sanctuary is fantastic in delivering 2D action RPG gamepaly.
New Game+ modes coupled with already hours long story make Salt and Sanctuary a decently long lasting indie title. Just make sure you can last with the games brutal difficulty at times.
out of 10
(not an average)
With over 20 hours spent in game and the prospect of taking on New Game+ in the future, I think Salt and Sanctuary is one of the greater indie titles available on the PS4. An amazing achievement for a development team of just 2 people.